Launch of the World Wildlife Crime Report 2024: Opening Remarks by CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero

Updated on 16 May 2024


World Wildlife Crime Report 2024 Launch at the 33rd Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ)

Opening Remarks by CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero

13 May 2024, Vienna, Austria


Thank you, Madame Facilitator.

Your Excellency, Ambassador Laura S. H. Holgate, United States Representative to the Vienna Office of the United Nations and to the International Atomic Energy Agency, 

Ms. Catherine Olukanni Bosede, Deputy Director and Head of CITES & Wildlife Management of Nigeria, 

Mr. Govinda Terra, Chief of Staff to the President of IBAMA of Brazil, 

Mr Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director, UNODC Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, 

Ms. Ghada Waly, UNODC Executive Director, 

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, 

It is an honour to be here today for the launch of the third World Wildlife Crime Report. Congratulations to UNODC for the launch of this valuable report and thank you for inviting me to participate in this event alongside such distinguished speakers. 

World Wildlife Crime Reports are uniquely insightful and are a powerful tool to inform our responses to the scourge of wildlife crime. Data-driven research is crucial and forms a strong foundation for evidence-based policymaking. This research drives effective decision-making, and targeted and efficient interventions to combat this global threat that affects people and planet.

CITES is proud to work closely with UNODC, along with INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization and the World Bank Group, as part of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime or ICCWC. ICCWC works to strengthen criminal justice systems and provide coordinated support at national, regional and international levels. 

Now in its third edition, this World Wildlife Crime Report will be an important global resource in the work of the CITES Parties. CITES plays a central role in combating wildlife crime, as the primary legal framework for regulating international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants listed on its Appendices. The report addresses illegal trade concerning species that are central to the Decisions and Resolutions adopted by the Conference of the Parties to CITES. These insights will inform the continued efforts by CITES Parties to implement these Decisions and address illegal trade. 

The seizure data in the report documents illegal trade in 162 countries and territories from 2015 to 2021. Seizures affected around 4,000 plant and animal species, with around 3,250 listed in the CITES Appendices. It is important to remember that wildlife crime not only affects elephants, rhinos and tigers but also has a profound impact on less iconic species, including plants and trees. The report shows trends in illegal trade in succulent plants, rare orchids, reptiles, fish, birds and mammals. In many cases, this appears to have contributed to local or global extinctions, disrupted ecosystems, and undermined the many socioeconomic benefits that people derive from nature.

Part of the data in this report comes from annual illegal trade reports, which CITES Parties are required to submit each year. I would also like to take a moment to mention the CITES Illegal Trade Database and the new database dissemination platform which was launched last year. This database is hosted by UNODC on behalf of the CITES Secretariat. It is a powerful tool that will allow illegal trade data to become an accessible and valuable resource for CITES Parties. It will inform their decision making and support the development of targeted and evidence-based responses to combat wildlife crime. It will also inform global research and analysis studies undertaken by ICCWC.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Combating wildlife crime is crucial to ensure the survival of wild animal and plant species regulated by CITES in a legal and sustainable way, for future generations and for the future of our biodiversity. It is a key part of achieving the CITES Strategic Vision, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It will also simultaneously aid in fighting against other forms of transnational crimes. These are challenging times for our planet and our people, and this report serves as a call to action. We must work together to overcome the threats posed by wildlife crime. The third World Wildlife Crime Report will be a strong resource in our toolbox to help us do this. 

I extend my congratulations again to all who have been involved with this report. I look forward to seeing the profound impact it will have in our fight against wildlife crime.

Thank you.



The World Wildlife Crime Report 2024 is available here.

Watch the launch event here.